Nine tips for finding a financial planner

One approach to building wealth is to have a financial planner: they set an investment plan, organise estate planning, superannuation and life insurances. And they measure your advancement against your goals. But how do you find a planner? Where do you start? Here’s a few ideas:

  • Know what you need: Having a clear idea of your needs is a good starting point. If you’re an employee needing retirement advice you’ll have different needs to a business owner who wants a self-managed super fund.

  • Understand credentials: A planner should be a representative of an Australian Financial Services License (AFSL), which means the adviser operates under legislated standards. There are also two main professional bodies for financial planners: the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA). Both have codes of conduct and dispute resolution which provide certainty for clients.

  • Whats important to you? Think about who you want to deal with: it might be a person of the same age, the same gender or someone with a similar professional background to you. Know this before you search – it’s important.

  • Look at the FSG: Financial planners need a Financial Services Guide which tells you the firm’s specialties, and a profile of individual advisers. Read these closely because advisers can only claim a strength if they are qualified.

  • Call and meet: Get a short list and make some phone calls. Ask what they offer, what kind of client they usually deal with and what extra specialties exist in their practice. Then go and meet the ones you like.

  • Getting to know: Advisers know there should be a rapport between them and their clients, so most give you an hour of their time free of charge. Use this to get an idea of fees, processes and strengths.

  • Be prepared to pay: The old system of planning looked ‘free’ but the planner may have been taking commissions to put you into certain products. Planners and advisers now mostly charge a fee for service, which includes a Statement of Advice which could cost somewhere between $800 and $3000. And most adviser firms charge between $1000 and $3000 annually to manage your plan. This is your wealth you’re building – you have to be prepared to pay. Consider it an investment.

  • Decide on contact: Some investors want constant communication via emails and newsletters; others want one intense meeting each year. Be clear on how you want your adviser to communicate with you. Some are flexible – some aren’t. 

  • Making the most: Once you’ve selected a financial planner/adviser, your selection of them becomes an ongoing process which involves as much your input as theirs. This is where compatibility is important – if you’re actively involved in the plan, then you’ll get more out of your adviser.

Finally, any approach to a financial adviser should emphasise your needs and situation. Make sure that every conversation is centred around you and what you're looking to achieve. It's personal, it's your future.

Good luck.

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance.

You can contact Mark on Twitter.


Mark Bouris

Mark Bouris

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance.

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